Miary Lepiera


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The basic concept behind this sophomore album from Malagasy composer Miary Lepiera (and his earlier work) is to create a contemporary Malagasy music form, with references to contemporary African mainland sounds as well as those beyond the continent. As such, there's a good deal of Afro-pop in the guitar work and the string section from time to time, and what would seem to be adaptations of various South African styles creeping in here and there. The overall sound is dominated by Lepiera's vocals, which, while slight, are rather captivating when he works them into the composition properly. The music sits somewhere between dance and ambient listening, moving back and forth from song to song in its grooves. Lepiera makes some use of his island aesthetics by making his guitar sound a bit like a marovany when necessary for the sound, and using a katsa rattle throughout the whole. This is nothing like recordings by other Malagasy musicians (Tarika Sammy, Mahaleo, etc.) one might pick up in the store, but that is perhaps something good about the album, as it stands apart from the rest of his fellow island residents' work and creates a new sound for the island, mimicking the sounds of contemporary Afro-pop and the basic West African ballad sound quite well. At the same time, the parallels with mainland Africa are almost too strong for it to sound Malagasy in the end. Holding this middle ground leaves the potential for the album to come out rather flat, but Lepiera's compositions single-handedly make it come out decently. For a nice look at something new coming out of Madagascar, this is the way to go.

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